by Tamera Dunn

I saw this post recently on #wswcsa (What Should We Call Student Affairs) and it brought forth an initial laugh, but then that thought stayed with me and it kept coming to mind as I thought about the upcoming transitions that second-year graduate students are facing (if not embracing). 

For those of you with me in this crazy job search, there are often two questions you receive from individuals who (somewhat) understand what is going on: 

   - How is your search going? 
   - Do you have a job yet? 

In case you're curious, the current answers are 'ongoing' and 'no'. Neither one of those answers are the wrong answer, but the focus solely on the search and getting the job loses an important focus: self-care. 

Perhaps you're not searching and think this isn't relevant. Guess what? It is! 

Something almost no one is asking you about: what are you doing for yourself? A friend asked me this in a phone conversation recently and...I had nothing. The most exciting thing I could come up with was having a completely blank day on my calendar to do whatever struck my fancy. Well, that day was yesterday and I did a lot of homework. Pretty sure that's not anyone's idea of self-care. This question, asked out of the goodness of my friend's heart, has been such a wake-up call to strategically ensure I take care of myself in every single way, not just the tangible pieces which come with graduation and transitions. 

Self-care is so underrated when it comes to our approach to the student affairs profession. We spend a lot of time on the search to obtain a job, fixing up our resumes, remembering how hard tooling the perfect cover letter can be, and then letting our checking accounts take a hit with the various expenses involved. (If you think you're searching next year, start saving now. Not kidding...) However, we spend very little time thinking about our self-care and how we keep ourselves motivated to not only show up but to be the positive contributor to our communities, whether that be your department, division, or a virtual group. 

My self-care routine is uniquely my own. I know that for myself, I need to make sure that I utilize my strengths, which are at their finest when I am organized and mentally ready to adjust to the sudden changes that come with our understanding that no day is typical in student affairs. Patience is increasingly becoming a strength of mine, although I would not call myself a patient person. Some things that work for me include bubble baths & a glass of wine with a good book, baking delicious treats, jamming out to music that was new when I was in middle school, and straightening my hair. 

I use my top five strengths to shape a lot of what I do, but they've really enhanced my idea of self-care and my overall well-being as I navigate what I am confident will be a successful job search for my perfect fit as a first-time student affairs professional. 

My top five strengths are:

  - Strategic
  - Discipline
  - Input
  - Restorative
  - Deliberative

What are your top five strengths? How has your use of your top five enhanced your overall well-being? 

Also, if you're going to be at #ACPA14, I want to meet you! Tweet me - @Tam2theEra  

Student Affairs - the First Years

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